Trump attacks judge’s family and calls Alvin Bragg a ‘criminal’ at Mar-a-Lago despite court warning

Hours after arrest, former president lambasts ‘radical left lunatics’ and says US is a ‘nation in decline’

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Thursday 06 April 2023 07:55 BST
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Donald Trump repeats resentments in first speech since arrest

Donald Trump denounced the judge and prosecutor in his criminal case in a provocative speech from his Mar-a-Lago estate, just hours after being warned against rhetoric likely to incite violence.

The former president addressed supporters from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, after pleading not guilty in the Manhattan court to 34 criminal charges over alleged hush-money payments.

Defiant despite his arrest and court appearance, he criticised “failed” New York County district attorney Alvin Bragg and lamented the United States as “a nation in decline”.

“The criminal is the district attorney because he illegally leaked massive amounts of grand jury information,” Mr Trump said to loud applause. “For which he should be prosecuted, or at a minimum he should resign.”

Mr Trump also targeted Mr Bragg’s wife for tweeting the former president had been “nailed”.

“She has since locked down her Twitter account,” Mr Trump said, calling the entire investigation politically motivated.

He also attacked New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who presided over his arraignment, also pointing out how his daughter worked for vice president Kamala Harris.

“I have a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter work[ed] for Kamala Harris,” he said. Mr Trump’s words came despite the fact that Judge Merchan warned him to stop making threatening posts on social media that could inflame tensions or incite violence.

The two have a history since Judge Merchan presided over the criminal tax fraud case of two Trump Organisation subsidiaries and the criminal fraud case against the company’s chief financial officer.

But Judge Merchan did not impose a gagging order on Mr Trump. Prosecutors have reportedly sought a January 2024 court date, which Mr Trump’s attorneys opposed since they considered it too soon.

Along with the arraignment in Manhattan, Mr Trump also decried the investigation from the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state. Mr Trump defended his call to Georgia’s Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, asking him to help him move the state in his favour.

“This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election and it should be dropped immediately,” he said.

Mr Trump also faces an investigation from Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith for his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.

Former president lashed out at the judge hearing his case and the judge’s family

The former president criticised the FBI’s execution of a search warrant to obtain classified documents at his home last year. “We were negotiating in very good faith, proper way in order to return some or all of the documents that I openly and in very plain sight brought with me to Mar-a-Lago from our beautiful White House just as virtually every other president has done in the past,” he said.

Mr Trump has shown no indication that his arraignment or any other investigations would deter him from seeking the presidency for the third time.

“We are a nation in decline,” he said. “And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement,” he said. “With all of this being said, and with a very dark cloud over our beloved country. I have no doubt, nevertheless, that we will make America great again.”

Polling shows Mr Trump with a wide lead against his closest opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

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